A spokesperson for outgoing Minister for Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts, Ros Bates, has sought to reassure industry that her resignation will not halt momentum towards the Queensland Government’s refreshed ICT agenda.
“The departure of Minister Bates will not affect the progress of these important reforms,” the spokesperson said. “The Government looks forward to an announcement in the not too distant future.”
Premier Campbell Newman announced Bates’ resignation today, just as the ICT industry was readying itself to hear about the findings of a State-wide ICT Audit conducted by GCIO Peter Grant, and the Queensland’s Government’s plan for its ICT future.
The final report of the ICT Audit and its recommendations were due to the Minister in October last year. At the end of November 2012, Bates’ office advised that the report was still with them and that it was “due to go to the Public Sector Renewal Board and Cabinet in the not too distant future”.
Bates was due to speak to industry on Friday 22 February to “outline the findings of the ICT Audit and the Government's vision for future Government ICT,” according to event organisers the AIIA.
Updated 18 Feb 2013: Premier Campbell Newman has announced that former Assistant Minster for Planning Reform Ian Walker will take over the Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts portfolio.
While this formal ICT roadmap is still pending, Bates’ comments to the media and Parliament have already painted a solid picture of her Government’s ICT priorities, with emphasis placed on outsourcing ICT functions, making the most of cloud computing, remediating ageing applications and infrastructure across the public service and reforming current shared services arrangements.
At this stage, it would be extremely disruptive for a new minister to turn this ship around. With an announcement imminent, the Queensland Government seems to have set on an ICT trajectory to be followed with or without Ros Bates.
In a similar fashion, the Federal Government did not take its eyes off the implementation of the recommendations of the 2008 Gershon Review into ICT when responsibility over the Australian Government Information Management Office and its technology agenda shifted from incoming Finance Minister Penny Wong to Special Minister of State Gary Gray.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has attributed Bates’ resignation to ongoing health issues plaguing the Minister.
“Unfortunately the demanding role has taken a toll personally and on her health, and she had decided not to risk those issues impacting on the performance of her duties,” he said in a statement.
Much to the chagrin of the Labor Opposition, Minister Bates took medical leave in October last year to recover from shoulder surgery and to spend time with her recently hospitalised son. She was accused by the Opposition of trying to avoid answering questions on her involvement with former Transport and Main Roads' Director-General Michael Caltabiano in a past career as a lobbyist.
Newman has confirmed that Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek will fill the Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts portfolio until a replacement is chosen.
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